Weekly News Brief 4/1-4/6

News Clip


Betsy DeVos joins Tennessee governor in full-court press for expanded school choice – By Marta W. Aldrich, Chalkbeat

DeVos joined Gov. Bill Lee to visit a Nashville charter school where students have shown academic gains. Earlier in the day, she talked about school choice programs with about 30  elected leaders, supporters, and parents during a closed-door roundtable discussion at the state Capitol, where two controversial proposals from the new Republican governor have momentum.

“I’m really cheering the governor and all of the legislators on here,” DeVos told reporters during a brief news conference at LEAD Cameron, a middle school operated by a Nashville-based charter network. “I know that Tennessee has continued to advance opportunities for children, and I’m convinced that they’re going to continue to do the right thing for kids.”

One of Lee’s proposals would start a new type of education voucher program, and the other would create a state commission with the power to open charter schools anywhere across Tennessee through an appeals process.

Those bills have cleared key legislative hurdles and appear to be barreling toward votes in the full House and Senate, both controlled by Republicans. The voucher proposal advanced later on Monday out of the House’s rulemaking committee and could be taken up Wednesday for the first time in the voucher-friendly Senate.

Bill would waive tuition for STEM students who teach in public schools – from the Illinois News Network

A group that represents manufacturing businesses in Illinois is leading an effort to pass Senate Bill 1930, a bill that would allow students in science, technology, math and engineering fields to get free tuition if they agree to teach in the state.

“Illinois faces a shortage of teachers in the STEM field, so we're hoping to encourage Illinois students to go into the STEM field so that we can have instructors to train the next generation of manufacturing workers,” Illinois Manufacturing Association President Mark Denzler said.

The bill would create the Grow Your Own STEM and Vocational Education Teachers Act. It would require public schools to waive tuition and on-campus housing costs for students if funds are appropriated to the Board of Higher Education under the Act.

To qualify, students would have to pursue a bachelor's degree in a STEM field, teach at a hard-to-staff school and maintain a 3.0 GPA. Students would also have to agree to fully reimburse the school for any waived fees if the student fails to teach at least three years at a high school or five years at a higher education institution or community college in Illinois.


New study pushes Pa. to embrace trauma-informed education – By Kaity Kline, WHYY

Research suggests that about half of the county’s children experience at least one traumatic event before the age of 17.

These adverse childhood experiences — known as ACES — include experiencing or witnessing violence; living in poverty; or having a parent go to jail.

Even as school districts across the country become more aware of how these traumas can affect learning, there’s been little concrete policy on the state or federal level for how schools should prepare.

A new study from the nonprofit Research for Action highlights “promising models” nationwide and calls on state lawmakers to implement a comprehensive approach in Pennsylvania.

“There are two areas where the research is extremely clear. Childhood trauma is an extremely common experience, and traumatic stress can have a wide range of negative consequences for children,” said Rachel Comly, a senior analyst at Research for Action.

The study recommends that schools provide professional development that reflects the complexity and sensitivity of trauma.